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Legislation for water risk management in healthcare and aged care facilities

On February 2017, amendments were made to the Public Health Act 2005 and the Public Health Regulation 2018 to improve water risk management practices in health and residential aged care facilities:

  • the Public Health Act 2005 includes Chapter 2A (Water risk management plans), sections 389A, and 389B; and amends section 385 and schedule 2 (Dictionary)
  • the Public Health Regulation 2005 has now been replaced by the Public Health Regulation 2018; this regulation includes ‘Part 3 Water risk management plans’. 

These amendments establish a legislative framework to:

  • improve the management and control of health risks associated with the supply and use of water in hospitals and residential aged care facilities (in particular health risks associated with Legionella)
  • provide for greater public transparency of water testing activities being undertaken by these facilities.

Facilities

The requirements apply to:

Private residential aged care facilities are not yet subject to the water risk management provisions. However, as water risk management plans are considered internationally as best practice, Queensland Health advocates for all health and aged care facilities to have, and operate in accordance to, a water risk management plan. Engagement with the private residential aged care sector is planned to commence late 2018.

Overview of the new requirements

Regulated facilities are required to:

  • have a water risk management plan that addresses all water-related hazards which includes, but is not limited to, monitoring for the presence of Legionella in water used by a facility
  • operate in accordance with their water risk management plan
  • demonstrate both timely and appropriate remedial responses are/have been undertaken in line with their water risk management plan in response to incidents including the detection of Legionella in water used by the facility
  • notify the chief executive of the Department of Health, within 1 business day from receipt of confirmation of a Legionella detection
  • submit periodic reports summarising the results of Legionella tests for a prescribed facility to increase public transparency regarding water testing for Legionella being undertaken by hospitals and aged care facilities.

Penalties apply for non-compliance with certain requirements and these reflect the significant responsibility hospital and residential aged care facilities have for proactively managing and controlling the health risks to their patients and clients.

More information

Email Queensland Health at legionella@health.qld.gov.au.

Last updated: 12 November 2018